Ramblings
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The Joy of a Full Freezer

Here there be monsters. Or frozen pork chops? Either way, I should have labelled the package.

I’m not big on buying food ahead of time. I like to keep my options open, and go where my weekly grocery flier, trip to the farmers market, or CSA box take me.

But…occasionally, when a deal is too good to pass up, I’ll buy extra and store it in my freezer. I bought an extra corned beef brisket on sale for St. Patrick’s day, and it barely fit into my freezer. The current contents of my freezer, and why it wound up in there:

  • One whole turkey (Thanksgiving special – $.59/lb)
  • One slab of baby back ribs (Out of grilling season special – $1.99/lb)
  • Two pork shoulder “steamship” roasts (After New Year’s special – $.69/lb)
  • One pork leg “steamship” roast (After New Year’s special – $.99/lb)
  • One pork loin roast ($1.99/lb)
  • One pork tenderloin ($2.99/lb)
  • Two packages Johnsonville Brats (Out of grilling season – Buy one get one free sale)
  • Two packages chicken thighs ($.99/lb)
  • Bacon (Various sales)
  • Six pounds butter (Various sales)
  • Lamb Shoulder Chops (Farmers Market – last ones available until spring)
  • 3 pounds grass fed beef hamburgers (Farmers Market)
  • 2 pounds ground buffalo (Farmers Market)
  • 2 slabs Pork Belly (Asian Market)
  • 3 pounds beef short ribs (Mexican Market)
  • 2 pounds Hungarian Sausage (Al’s Quality Meats)
  • 1 pound Chorizo Sausage (Al’s Quality Meats)
  • …plus that corned beef I just bought. Also, various pre-made ingredients like meatballs, chicken stock, and a lasagna in case of emergency.

One thing I’ve realized, from writing up this list – almost everything on it comes cryovaced – that is, vacuum packed in thick plastic. I’ve found that cryovaced meat will last in the freezer for quite a while without freezer burn.

Also, it shows my split personality. Half of the items made me say “wow, that’s such a deal! I can’t pass that up!”. The other half made me say “I’ve been looking all over for that! I can’t pass that up!”
*I don’t have a shopping problem – I can quit any time I want. I don’t go out of my way to visit new and interesting ethnic markets and gourmet grocery stores… Oh. Wait…

The good thing about doing this inventory? I learned that I have to eat into my stash, and not buy meat for the next couple of weeks. That way, I’ll have room for the next deal I can’t pass up. It is comforting to know I am stocked up. Because, in the end…I like having frozen assets.*
*Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.

What do you think? What do you keep in your freezer? What deals make you stock up? What do you need to thaw out and cook? Let me know in the comments, below.

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Filed under: Ramblings

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Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

6 Comments

  1. Yes! We do the same thing — when chicken leg quarters are $0.39/lb we end up stuffing half the freezer full of them.

    We also use our freezer for homemade beans, stock and “microwave lunches” (leftovers in individual portions, which may be easily transported to work).

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ty'sMommy says

    Oh man, that looks like my freezer….but mine is bigger. And, actually, I have three. Scary, but true. We have a full size chest freezer in the garage for all the game and excess beef and pork when we first get a half beef or a whole hog from the butcher. Then there is an apartment sized chest freezer at one end of the kitchen where I mainly keep the deer brats and salami, pizzas and a few other miscellaneous things that the hubs likes to get at frequently and I don’t want him digging around in “my” freezer for.
    MY freezer is a full size upright in my laundry room. In this freezer are my summer berries, homemade stock, frozen herbs, and MEAT. Since we live in a reasonably remote area, I stock up, year round. Any time there is a good sale, I buy 3-4 packages of chicken or pork roast, or whatever. Also, I am a shopper of opportunity. So if I happen to be at my local grocer and they actually HAVE somethign interesting, like short ribs or beef shank, I grab it up and pp it in the freezer. Partly so I’ll have it when I want it, and partly because I want them to know it will sell so they will get more.
    Right now I’m in the “emptying out” cycle, trying to use meat out of the freezer to make room for more (and to cut down on this month’s grocery bill)!
    But look out when I’m in Toledo and Cleveland this summer, I’m hitting the good markets there and bringing it home in coolers!

  3. Tina L says

    We do the same thing. It was getting to the point where I kept buying and not USING what was in there. To me, the only thing worse than having to buy meat full price is buying it on sale then having to throw it away because of freezer burn. So last month I made the commitment to eat ONLY out of the freezer and pantry. I didn’t even walk by the meat aisle in the supermarket. I saved loads of money!

  4. Lindsay says

    I have a tiny apartment freezer, but I definitely do the same thing. I do two additional things though. First, I label the date and weight of everything I put in the freezer, gives me an idea of exactly when I got it and how much I have to work with. Second, I keep a list on my phone and computer of what I have in there for when I read interesting food blogs (like this one), so I don’t have to go back physically to my freezer to remember if I have that *particular* cut of meat.

  5. We stock an 18 cu ft freezer every year, for Winter. Most of the space is taken up by the quarter-hog we mail order from HeritageFoods. It can be challenging at times, being there’s just the two of us. What on Earth am I going to do with the 12lb ham? It’s not a “ham” per se, but the cut that one turns into a ham. I don’t have the tools to cure it, or smoke it. It just may be headed to the Rescue Mission.

  6. @kensingtonkitchen:
    Doh! I forgot…My homemade beans, stock and microwave lunches are in my other freezer. Sounds like you’re my kind of cook.

    @Ty’s Mommy:
    Three freezers? And one that is yours, and yours alone? Wow. I’ve been lusting after a chest freezer; right now I have two refrigerator/freezer units. This post was really about the “downstairs” freezer, where I keep stuff for long term storage.

    @Tina L:
    Ha! Me too. I realized I hit the “buying, not using” stage when I tried to fit the corned beef in there.

    @HB:
    For that ham – look for recipes for “fresh ham” or “pork leg”. There was a really good one years ago in Cooks Illustrated. I’m going to try one on the rotisserie, but I have the same issue you do. it’s huge, about 15 pounds, and I need to have a lot of people over to even think about cooking it.

    @Lindsay:
    Wow – you’re much more organized than I am! I used to be good about labeling. I kept a roll of masking tape and a sharpie marker in my kitchen junk drawer, and would rip a piece off and label everything that went in the freezer.

    Then I had kids.

    Now, if I can find either the sharpie OR the masking tape, I’m doing good. My daughter loves making stuff, and can sense a roll of tape from ten yards away. Even if it’s buried under papers in the junk drawer.

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